Finding Underlying Concepts in Beliefs

by Tom Butler

The Spiritualist Society of Reno has no dogma but there are important concepts which shape our understanding of the world we live in now and the greater reality we will continue to experience after this lifetime.

Other systems of belief have their unique take on reality, and in many ways, their views may seem to conflict with Spiritualism; however, most if not all beliefs are true expressions of reality as they are understood within that system of belief. The challenge is to find the underlying concepts–principles of reality–on which beliefs are based so as to establish common ground amongst the many views.

This article provides examples that will help you understand the idea of normalizing concepts.

The most important concept here is that, just as people experience a progression toward increased spiritual maturity, society and the prevailing worldview has also evolved. This is discussed in the Etheric Studies essay on Perceptual Agreement which is part of the Implicit Cosmology Series. Worldview is the thought form representing beliefs of society. It is the filter through which individuals pass experiences to determine how to respond; whether or not to believe or disbelieve.

Knowledge given to society via revelation, mediumship, channeling, automatic writing, or any other form of transcommunication, is necessarily filtered by worldview. In mental mediumship for instance, what was intended by the communicating entity is either rejected or translated by the medium into imagery that agrees with his or her current understanding. Thus, as worldview changes, what is given as revelation from the other side in this modern day may be very different than what was given in the 1800s. The “truth” would be the same, it is just the expression that would be different.

There are relatively few Spiritualists, making it difficult for our community to know everything, think about all concepts and compile all that is known into thought which agrees with Spiritualist tenets. There just are not enough of us, yet there is so much important information to be compiled. At the same time, there are many, many more people in the world who are Spiritualists in nature but practice different systems of belief. The message is fundamentally the same, it is just the outward expression that will be different. For this reason, it is important for Spiritualists to learn to “normalize” other people’s viewpoint so as to find the common concepts. The principle of nature are all about fundamental concept, so learning to understand the principles which govern nature’s behavior may mean learning to recognize them as they are understood by others.

Examples of seemingly irrelevant, “un-Spiritualist” concepts that are really in accord with Spiritualist thinking include:


The core concept of angels is the presence of an etheric personality–maybe a thoughtform, a morphic field or a person–that has an interest in the wellbeing of someone or something in the physical. Spiritualist usually think of these entities as guides or “friends on the other side.” In some systems of thought, this is known as nature spirits or devas.

When encountering any reference to a personality that is not specifically a discarnate person, always look for common references that might indicate that the intent is really a reference to an etheric helper. Information about such an entity based on other systems of belief may  help Spiritualists better understand the idea of a guide.


According to Spiritualist understanding, a person progresses spiritually by learning to understand governing principles of nature. That is, by understanding the ways of nature, and learning to live in accordance with that understanding, people gain in spiritual maturity. Further, Spiritualists believe that this learning process never ends.

With spiritual progression as a fundamental objective, and based on what is being learned via Instrumental TransCommunication, it is clear that people will continue to have learning experiences after transition out of this lifetime. The venue for these learning experiences may or may not be physical. This remains an open question. What is clear is that a person is born into this lifetime, lives this life, transitions into a region of apparent reorientation, and then “transitions” again into a new venue for learning.

Rather than being overly concerned about whether or not reincarnation is a fact, when a Spiritualists encounters the concept in other systems of belief, it is a good idea to consider what is being said about what reincarnation really is–continued opportunity for progression.

Life Plan

The concept of a life plan is something of a corollary of continued progression. A good way to think of this is as an urge to gain understanding about a specific concept. It is clear that people do not come into this lifetime as their personality‘s first experience for learning. Some may, but most clearly exhibit understanding that suggests prior progression. If the measure of advanced maturity, having mastered many concepts, then a life plan might be expressed as the intention to master a new concept.

So, the underlying concept is continued progression. It may be expressed in different ways, but fundamentally, it agrees with the Nine Principles in the NSAC Declaration of Principles.

Akashic Records

This concept is based on akasha is a Sanskrit word meaning “sky,” “space” or “aether.” A cosmic gallery of pictures and the records of every thought, action and feeling since the world began. Many believe that these records can be contacted in certain psychic states of consciousness. See the article Akashic Records.

The concept of life records are often associated with reincarnation, but the underlying concept does not necessarily lead to the idea of reincarnation. Think of it more as a thought form which contains the emotional thought energy of experiences. These can be associated with an individual, but from the Spiritualist perspective, it is more likely that such information becomes available to fill an individual’s need.

A mental medium is able to sense the sitter’s etheric personality and those associated with the sitter (loved ones, guides — “friends on the other side.”). It is likely the medium senses this information as the sitter needs. So in this way, Spiritualist are in agreement with the concept of Akashic records.


A principle in Theosophy, Buddhism and Hinduism that states that we are the cause of our present conditions. These conditions are said to be governed by the Law of Action which holds that, for every action there is a reaction with our deeds, acts and attitudes creating our future and making one ultimately responsible for oneself. This concept is probably more correctly thought of as “imperfect understanding of the operation of reality.” The operation of reality if often referred to as Natural Law Natural Law.”

Spiritualists should hear “learning to understand Natural Law” when they hear the term, “Karma.” This is not a system of punishment and/or reward. It is simply continued opportunity to have experiences leading to understanding of Natural Law.

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